Proper nouns - organization names
Thread poster: Jeffrey Jankowski

Jeffrey Jankowski
United States
Local time: 23:15
Spanish to English
Jul 10, 2013

As far as I am aware, it is considered best to translate proper nouns, such as names of organizations, only when the entity in question uses a translated name/title, for example on the website or in publications thereof.
If there is no indication of an English version of the name ever being used, would it be best to write:

Fondo para Accion Ambiental y la Ninez (Environmental Action and Childhood Fund)


to simply use the name in its original Spanish?

Also, would you leave the organization's self-designated abbreviated name (Fondo Accion) in Spanish, or translate it to English?

I tried searching for any kind of established best practice or widely held agreement on the issue, but was unable to find anything.

Many thanks.


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
English to Polish
+ ...
My $0.02 Jul 11, 2013

I would not leave a meaningful foreign name without providing at least a rough translation in parentheses, except for legal names of companies for which I sometimes omit to provide such a translation even if the name means something. I would probably not attempt to translate a self-designated abbreviation such as Fondo Accion. Those are characteristic native flavours. Native to the source language and culture.

English right now seems to have an inclination towards leaving quite a lot of things untranslated. That's probably better left to its native speakers to decide, but I'm personally not a fan of that approach. To a non-native speaker it may actually sound patronising, as in: 'your stuff is not translatable into our language,' while the English-using writer may well have intended to show respect by leaving the source language some privacy.

Edit: But when translating a name, I'd very rarely want to omit the original name altogether from the translated document. Either way (i.e. translating or not), I'd leave the other-language name in parentheses the first time the name appeared in the text, which is also more or less what sworn translators are required to do in my country as a matter of good practice.

[Edited at 2013-07-11 01:35 GMT]


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
A bit of everything Jul 11, 2013

I would translate it at least once so that the readers know what we're talking about, but I would also leave the full original name in there so that readers can refer to their website (even if it is only in Spanish, they might speak some Spanish or simply want to check that the organisation does exist).

Rather than invent a short form I would go for an acronym. I would keep the source acronym unless there is an official translation of the name in English. And for the sake of brevity, I would use it throughout, apart from the first instance, when I'll give a full explanation.

I might leave the name in French if it's perfectly obvious to native English speakers (as obvious as Fédération Internationale de Football Association for example), but I work on the principle that readers have never learnt a word of French, so if there are any words that are not immediately obvious, it gets translated.


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Proper nouns - organization names

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